The county seat of San Miguel County, Telluride is a little town located in the southwestern section of the state of Colorado. An old mining town many years ago, Telluride is best known nowadays as a resort location, right next door to the highly popular Telluride Ski Resort. Stretching out over 2.18 square miles in total, Telluride has an estimated population of around 2,400 people but attracts many more for recreational activities.
There was a big gold rush in the mid-19th century in the area that would later become known as Colorado. It didn't take long for miners to discover a gold vein not far from Telluride, so a settlement was quickly founded and became a town in 1878, being incorporated in 1887. Telluride was originally called 'Columbia' but that name was quickly changed. Many mines were set up around the town, looking for gold, silver, copper, lead, and more. In 1889, the town of Telluride had another claim to fame, with its San Miguel Valley Bank becoming the first major location robbed by Old West criminal Butch Cassidy.
Over the years, the mining industry continued to thrive in and around Telluride, giving the town a steady population through the early 20th century, with the town even becoming a National Historic Landmark District in 1964 for its mining importance. Then, in 1972, the local Telluride Ski Resort opened up and Telluride suddenly had a whole new industry: tourism. The town was quickly classed as one of the hidden gems of Colorado, leading to many more visitors, including celebrities, and helping to establish it as one of several popular skiing hotspots in Colorado today.
Elevation of Telluride
The elevation of a location tells us how high it is in relation to sea level. In the case of Telluride, there are several key locations to consider. The town of Telluride has an elevation of 8,750 feet (2,667 m), but it's also worth looking at the elevation in Telluride's neighboring areas. Telluride is connected by gondola to nearby Mountain Village, which has an elevation of 9,545 feet (2,910 m). The Telluride Ski Resort, the most popular tourist spot in the area, has a base elevation of 8,725 feet (2,659 m) and a top elevation of 13,150 feet (4,010 m).
Colorado is well-known for its ski resorts and Telluride is just one of many. Other popular ski resorts like Aspen and Vail also have very high elevations. The town of Vail has an elevation of 8,022 feet (2,445 m), while Aspen stands at an elevation of around 8,000 feet (2,438 m). So, when compared against these locations, Telluride is clearly higher up and has one of the highest elevations of any ski resort town in Colorado. It’s not the highest town in the state, however, as that honor belongs to Leadville, which has an elevation of 10,152 feet (3,094 m).
Colorado is actually the highest in the entire United States, with a mean elevation of 6,800 feet (2,070 m), but the elevation of Telluride is still much higher than this reading and higher than many of the major cities around the state like Denver, which has an elevation of 5,280 feet (1,609.344 m) and Colorado Springs, which has an elevation of 6,033 feet (1,839 m). The highest point in the whole state is Mount Elbert, which stands at 14,400 feet (4,401 m) tall, while the lowest point in Colorado is part of the Arikaree River, which has an elevation of 3,317 feet (1,011 m).
Climate and Things to Do in Telluride
As a popular ski resort town with a very high elevation, it’s no surprise that Telluride is very cold and snowy in general. The town has a humid continental climate, with distinct seasons and very cold winters. Summer months can reach highs of 78°F (25°C), but temperatures can plummet to at least 4°F (-15°C) in January. Over 150 inches of snow fall every year due to the high altitude of this location.
The key thing to do in Telluride is visit the Telluride Ski Resort and go skiing. The resort features more than 2,000 acres of skiable area with 127 runs in total, including a nice mixture of beginner, intermediate, and expert runs. Various gondolas and ski lifts can help you get around, with restaurants, accommodation, and other amenities right nearby. It’s important to note that all elevations above 8,000 feet (2,438 m) can start to induce altitude sickness in certain people, and the air gets thinner and colder as the ascent continues, so be sure to be prepared when planning a trip to Telluride.